|He Will Give You Strength|
Lisa Barry: Have you ever wondered how different your life might be today if you made prayer a high priority? Would the same people be close to you? Would you be giving of your time and money the way you are today?
All this week on Gateway To Joy, in honor of the National Day of Prayer, Elisabeth Elliot is talking about the importance of prayer. I would guess that everyone listening to me today would say that prayer should be a high priority, but do our actions confirm that? Let's make today the beginning of a renewed commitment to prayer. You'll find out how, as we begin this practical series on "The Power of Prayer."
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says, "and underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot, talking with you today about "The Power of Prayer."
"What a joy it is to have a prayer life with honorable motives and a walk with the living God." Now that's what a prisoner wrote to me--that line, "What a joy it is to have a prayer life with honorable motives and a walk with the living God." And he wrote me a letter telling me that he had been listening to Gateway To Joy and he made some nice comments and then he said, "God is far more concerned with strengthening our faith and building our character, than making our road easy. What a hard lesson to learn, but what a blessing to see.
"I've been in prison for thirteen years now and while I don't relish the thought of doing a few more years, I would never trade the time I've spent in here. Not even for my freedom. For it was in here that I came to know Jesus Christ in the kind of personal way that I never understood before. I'm a worm and a nobody, but I have a relationship with a Somebody. And that Somebody is Jesus Christ.
"What a wonderful thing to see His hand at work and to see Him intervene in ways that I never dared dream before. This is something that I shall never, ever forget. I'm absolutely blessed beyond words to describe it. At the moment I have nothing I can send in the way of funds to help you with your ministry and I know you must have many needs of which I am very concerned."
Then he quotes from Isaiah, "'I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry lands springs of water that they may see and know and consider and understand together that the hand of the Lord hath done this and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.' God's timing is always right; He's never slow or behind time. Thank you all for allowing God to use each of you in such specific ways. May God continue to lead this ministry and guide each of you as you seek to serve Him."
Well, thank you, Greg. Thank you so much for that encouraging letter. And isn't it a wonderful thing to realize that whatever else you can't do because your in prison you know for sure that you can pray. I'm sure that many of you know that simple gospel hymn,
What a friend we have in Jesus,
Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Heavy trials and temptations?
Can we find a friend so faithful
Are we weak and heavy laden?
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
The power of prayer. "We do not make requests of You," said Daniel, "because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy."
I have here a prayer by a woman named Edith Jones.
Father, who art alone,
And shield with Thine Almighty hand
And bendest low Thine ear
Oh compass with Thy love.
And some young people may be listening who don't understand that line. "Oh compass with Thy love." To compass just means to put your arms around, let's put it that way, in a simple way.
Put your loving arms around
That one and all things
Guard them from every harm
We cannot with our loved ones be
In other words, maybe someone is listening who has loved ones far away. You can't be with them, but you can trust them to your Heavenly Father. I can remember when I first went away to boarding school. I can still see my mother weeping on the station platform as the train pulled away and from then on I'm sure that she greatly doubled her prayer life because her two oldest children had gone away to boarding school. And I know that mother's prayer life began to deepen and she wrote letters to us continuously. Every single Wednesday I would get a post card and every single Saturday I would get a letter. A full length letter from her and so would my brother who was in another school.
To go on with this poem.
Guard them from every harm
We cannot with our loved ones be,
Meeting and parting oft
What is prayer? Elizabeth Goudge defines it as the "ceaseless offering up of the whole personality. Every thought, word and action as a sacrifice."
I had a letter from a woman telling me that she had discovered peace. A stormy marriage. She married a believer outward in appearance only. He was a man who used physical and verbal abuse. He committed adultery. Fathered three illegitimate children. And my correspondence says, "I hated him. I went to the kitchen to wash dishes and I began listening to Gateway To Joy. My callused heart was changed. I began to surrender my life, my thoughts, my plans and ways to God. I had hated my husband. I even wished him dead." And then she read Isaiah 41:9-10 and put it into action.
And this is what it says in Isaiah. "I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are My servant. I have chosen you and have not rejected you.' So, do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
She says, "I put those verses into action. Two years have passed. God has worked through me. My husband is a different man. I am a different woman. I appreciate and love my husband so much. We have a wonderful life. We love God. We love each other. We love our children, our home and we love Elisabeth Elliot. You will never know how much you mean to me," she said.
Well, it's wonderful to receive a letter like that and to see the difference--the total transformation--that prayer has done in the life of that couple.
Many of you know Amy Carmichael's story about when she was a little girl, she heard someone say that God can change brown eyes into blue ones. And so she quickly decided that she definitely wanted blue eyes. And so she got down on her knees just before she went to bed one night and she prayed that the Lord would change her brown eyes into blue ones. Waking up in the morning, she was so excited to push a chair over to the dresser, climb up on the chair and look into the mirror. Hoping, of course, to see those blue eyes. She saw only brown ones.
Many years later she told this story to some little girls of whom she had charge. And she told them that they must remember that "no" is an answer. God answered her prayer. She had the same brown eyes, but she understood that the answer was "no." And there many times for us old folks as well, to realize that although we have the privilege of prayer, we do not necessarily know that our prayer is a good one and God may have something far better for us if we will only trust Him and obey.
Lisa Barry: And in response to that wise counsel, let's offer up all of our prayers to God and give Him the freedom to do what's best. Then, because you like to be proactive about your Christian life, I'm going to recommend a great next step. Elisabeth has written a book called God's Guidance; and if you've ever been puzzled by the way God does things, this book will shed light on His priorities for your life.
It's not a manual for prayer, but an inside look into the long-term goals God has for His children. Once we understand where He's headed, it's much easier to trust Him in the journey. It's a terrific book that I highly recommend. Again, the title is God's Guidance, and we are making it available today to those of you who ask for it. And we'd like to suggest a donation of $10.00 for that resource.
Call right now; we're available seven days a week and 24 hours a day to assist you. Our toll-free number is 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Our mailing address is: Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, NE 68501. You can also find us on the Internet at gatewaytojoy.org.
Gateway To Joy is a listener-supported production of Back to the Bible. Thank you for your partnership with Gateway To Joy over the years. Your gifts really do make a difference.
Tomorrow Elisabeth talks about how to receive strength through prayer. It's all coming up next time on Gateway To Joy.